Life + Arts

Harlem drama amazes audiences

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is a powerful wake-up call that will leave audiences stunned at how much the human heart can bear and overcome.

Precious depicts the overweight and low self-esteemed Claireece ‘Precious’ Jones’ turbulent existence while living with her emotionally and physically abusive mother, Mary, who constantly criticizes Precious for trying to better herself with education rather than depend on welfare.

Set in Harlem in 1987, 16-year-old Precious attends junior high school and makes good grades despite her illiteracy. However, she is put at risk of expulsion after her principal discovers that Precious is pregnant for the second time.

But the principal is unaware that Precious’ father raped her and that both children are his. Mary, who knows about the situation, did nothing to stop it.

Inevitably, the school discharges Precious, giving her the chance to enroll in an alternative school, Each One Teach One. This becomes her opportunity to become literate and gives her the courage to fight back against her mother with the support and friendship of her teacher, Ms. Rain, and her classmates.

With an exceptional cast, the words written by Sapphire make for emotionally raw and commanding cinematic art, with much of the power and impact of the film resulting from its talented actresses.

Acting newcomer Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe portrayed Precious with extreme intensity, never failing to show her character’s will to succeed and desire to be someone else. Sidibe left no emotion untouched and projects them to audiences with great success, leaving people feeling the pain she suffered and the promise of redemption.

Although only a supporting actress, comedian Mo’Nique stepped away from her humorous persona and dominated the monstrous character of Mary.

Her performance stirred up an array of emotions, mostly anger and disbelief over how she treated Precious. Come Oscar time in 2010, it would be no surprise for Mo’Nique to walk away with an award.

Other actresses who contributed to the film’s success include Paula Patton as Ms. Rain, the instructor who encourages Precious to continue her education even when she wants to give up. Mariah Carey plays the character of Mrs. Weiss, a social worker who deals with Precious’ welfare case and who also gives Precious the support needed to break away from her mother.

Director Lee Daniels’ heartbreaking and unforgettable vision of Sapphire’s’ novel is a must-see.

Precious was executively produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey and has already won awards at the Sundance and Toronto International film festivals. It was also an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival.

Needless to say, Precious is well on its way to receiving more awards and already has cultivated Oscar buzz.

Precious opens today in Houston.

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